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ablative of means/instrument, chapter 7?

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ablative of means/instrument, chapter 7?

Postby elrond32 » Wed Mar 23, 2005 12:56 am

In chapter 7, sentence 10 in the review reads as follows: "Officia sapientiamque oculis animi possumus videre." I translated this as "We are able to see duties and wisdom with the eyes of the soul." Is this an example of an ablative of means (or instrument) construction? When I first read it
I assumed that it was. Thanks for any guidance or clarification. Also, would there be any difference in the English translation if the Latin used "et" instead of the "-que" construction?
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Re: ablative of means/instrument, chapter 7?

Postby benissimus » Wed Mar 23, 2005 1:59 am

elrond32 wrote:In chapter 7, sentence 10 in the review reads as follows: "Officia sapientiamque oculis animi possumus videre." I translated this as "We are able to see duties and wisdom with the eyes of the soul." Is this an example of an ablative of means (or instrument) construction?

Yes, this is an example of such an ablative. I would not hesitate to say that most ablatives without prepositions are ablative of means/instrument. The exceptions are that when words of time (e.g. tempus, annus, dies, hora) are put into the ablative, they are almost surely in the ablative of time. When there is a passive verb it is likely that there is an ablative of agent. With a verb of separation, lacking/needing, depriving, or freeing, you can expect an ablative of separation. Certain verbs and constructions naturally take the ablative as part of the construction. In the absence of these very specific circumstances, you can usually rely on ablative of means or instrument. I would say oculis here is instrument rather than means but it is not always clear (to me at least), and I don't think it matters much to know the difference.

Also, would there be any difference in the English translation if the Latin used "et" instead of the "-que" construction?

They are virtually interchangeable.
Last edited by benissimus on Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby elrond32 » Wed Mar 23, 2005 8:04 pm

Thank you Benissimus, that was a very helpful answer. One of the minor frustrations of working with the Wheelock text is that the grammatical concepts are explained in bits and pieces stretched out over the course of the whole book. Hopefully by the time I get to chapter 14 I will have a clearer grasp of all the uses of the ablative.
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